I sat down with Delaney Turner, IBM’s social business strategist, editor and engagement lead, to expand on some of the subjects he presented to the Social Media Breakfast Ottawa crowd yesterday morning.
According to Turner, our world is becoming smarter as it becomes more interconnected. Businesses must acknowledge that social media is at least partly responsible for bridging new connections and adapt their communications strategies to utilize these new channels to their best effect.
Turner said IBM employees are encouraged to participate on social media channels on behalf of the company, and take personal responsibility for their work. “Social media is like the phone,” said Turner. “Rather than restrict access, we’re going to treat people like adults and trust that they’re going to use it right for business.”
IBM doesn’t ignore the possibility that employees might slip up, and to prevent such unfortunate occasions from happening, the company has set rigorous guidelines and objectives for its social media strategy. IBM’s strategy, which incorporates input from its employees, seeks to “liberate content,” lever internal expertise and connect with key constituencies. The goal, said Turner, is to develop IBM’s corporate character and express “eminence” through social media. Here is a high-level view of IBM’s social media strategy:
“Information really isn’t valuable to anyone if it’s locked in a silo that other people in the organization can’t access,” said Turner. “We all have lots of valuable content that dies in our inboxes because it isn’t accessible.”
Using a combination of collaboration tools and an intranet, IBM ensures employees have access to all information that could be shared and discussed through social sites. This way, employees always have access to great content and the ability to connect with experts who may be available to expand on discussion topics. Even during their weekly social media meetings, Turner and his “governing council” document everything so information is available to employees to share.
Levering internal expertise
Turner said IBM is creating a new management discipline that combines internal expertise of subject matter with the external expertise of marketers. IBM is tapping its internal experts for detailed information in specific areas and turning to marketers to turn this expertise into valuable content that can be shared and discussed through social channels.
Connecting to constituencies
Turner says that IBM is also tapping influential, forward-thinking individuals who are interested in, and receptive to, what IBM has to say as an additional resource for relevant content. By bridging connections with these individuals through social media, IBM is expanding its community and building its authority on its channels. The goal here is to “orchestrate” content being created internally and externally and “align” it to IBM’s business goals.
The goal of all of these activities is to develop IBM’s corporate character and express its eminence in the social space. By showcasing expertise, IBM hopes to demonstrate that it regards social media as an integral part of its business at all levels. In the following interview, Turner explains these points in greater detail: